Merger control predominantly relies upon strict analysis of the mergers’ effects on effective competition. However, there is scope for so-called public interest considerations. Since the welfare effects of competitive markets represent an important public interest itself, additional public interest considerations need to be non-market in the sense that these goals stand in conflict with competition. This paper gives an overview of public interest considerations in the merger policy of European Union members and analyzes four jurisdictions in detail. We find that the institutional designs lack focus on truly non-market public interest considerations. Furthermore, there are relevant shortcomings regarding transparency and legal certainty. Moreover, our ex-post analysis shows that the empirical record of past public interest-motivated interventions is questionable. Therefore, we suggest revising the public interest regulations in the respective merger control regulations by narrowing their focus to real non-market public interests and by levying decision power on less politically-influenced bodies.
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